written by corps member Alex Padilla, serving on the Diplomas Now team at Shaw Middle School
My name is Alex Padilla and I proudly serve on the Diplomas Now team at Shaw Middle School. I am 20 years old and originally from Rialto, CA but, currently enrolled at Georgetown University. The reason I came to City Year comes from my desire to be an asset to my community and the previous experiences I had in service learning. Throughout my two years at Georgetown University I focused on my studies but still found myself feeling unaccomplished. That’s when I discovered City Year and decided to give up my senior status as a junior to do a year of full-time volunteer service. I proudly serve at Shaw Middle School, a first time partnership and the only City Year partnership in Northwest DC. On a daily basis my team and I provide the right interventions at the right time from tutoring, to peer mentoring, and even role modeling. Currently at Shaw each class has lunch clubs focused on behavior management as well as in classroom support focusing on Behavior and Course Performance. One goal for our team this year is to create a highly effective parent engagement plan in order to increase parent involvement at our site. Another goal of our team is to create an energizing learning environment through beautifying our school. Our great CSX Civic Engagement team made a difference this past December 2nd with a full day service project at our school, where they painted a variety of murals plus our newest student created school mascot, Captain Shaw.
Although I am just halfway through my service year, I know I am making a difference because every day I have students from my 8th grade class yelling, “Mr. P! Mr. P! I need help!” Each day I wake up for a 10 hour day of service I know that without me there Desean* probably won’t work, Quion might get suspended and A’mya might sleep through class.
I know I’m making a difference because although my math class may not have a teacher, my students are working because I’m there each and every day willing and able to help and, for the days I’m not there I know someone is going to ask me “Where we’re you yesterday?” So far there are two equally meaningful experiences for me in my year of service, the kids I serve and the people I serve with.
Every day I have moments where I can’t help but smile and laugh, and you can only get that from working with children. Whether it’s watching a light bulb turn on as a kid truly learns a concept they’ll never forget or, a student who is acting just plain silly, you just can’t help but smile.
My team is the vehicle that keeps me going because no matter what kind of day or week I’m having, what kind of way I’m feeling, we’re still a team and we’ll still be there for one another. Each one of my teammates brings a different kind of personality, skill set, and work style to my team that allows us to complete tasks none of us could accomplish alone, and we enjoy doing it.
With the skills I’m learning at City Year and the experiences I’m having, I plan on returning to Georgetown University after this year of service to complete my degree in Foreign Policy Processes, and go on to law school. I thank you for your time, and hope that by reading why I serve, you better understand the true meaning and impact you will make if you decide to join City Year, because each morning I wake up, I know I do.
Check back all this week to see why other corps members serve or click on some of our previous posts to learn more about our amazing City Year Washington DC corps members! Go to www.cityyear.org to apply now.
*Names have been changed to protect students